Minister of the Economy Luis Salas has announced that a long-rumoured increase to gas prices in the country is imminent, saying that “the time has come” to raise the world’s cheapest gas prices. Salas said:
It’s possible to come up with an increase. This isn’t only an economic problem; it’s a political and social sensibility problem.
A full tank of gas in Venezuela costs less than a bottle of water, and Venezuelans have come to see the prices as something of a birthright. The last time the government raised gas prices was in 1989. The gas price increase set off a series of violent riots that left hundreds of people dead.
Minister of Foreign Commerce and International Investment Jesus Farias agrees with the idea that gas prices must be increased:
We could use that money to provide subsidies to public transport and food transport, something that is absolutely positive for people.
Maduro has been toying with the idea of increasing gas prices since at least three years, although the ongoing economic crisis appears to have put the plan on hold.
Borges: Food Inflation 1000% Under Maduro
Opposition deputy Julio Borges criticized Maduro’s speech at the National Assembly on Friday for lacking figures reflective of reality, something he partially blamed the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) for. The BCV went over a year without publishing any kind of official statistics before doing so in a report on Friday.
Borges dismissed the BCV’s report as nothing more than an attempt to influence public opinion in favour of the economic emergency package Maduro has proposed.
As always, we focus on what has happened to food prices, which is what hurts our people’s stomachs the most. Taking those official figures – as dressed up as we know they are – we know that over the last year up until September, food inflation was an unbelievable 254% without including the last three months of the year, during which time we know the economic chaos generated by the Maduro government became worse.
Borges also pointed out that food is 1,000% more expensive today than it was in December 2012, just four months before Maduro took office. Borges explained:
That means that food prices were multiplied by 11; what a family spent last September in food for the month would have lasted them at least a year when MAdro took over the government.
Torrealba: Either the Gov’t Changes or We Change the Gov’t
The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Jesus Torrealba, stressed the opposition bloc’s commitment to bringing radical change to Venezuela, saying that 2016 would be the year of change whether the government wanted it or not.
If the government gets to work and stops putting up obstacles, if it puts itself at the service of the citizens, then we will have a normal process. If this doesn’t happen, the country will find constitutional and peaceful means [to change the government] (…) [if Maduro] does not change his stance towards what is happening in Venezuela and does not place the resources of the Executive branch at the service of the necessity for change, then there will probably be a change in government.
IMF: Inflation Will Hit 500% in 2016
The International Monetary Fund released a report today in which it predicts that Venezuela’s inflation rate will hit 500% in 2016.
The head of the organization’s Latin American department, Alejandro Werner, said that there was a distinct possibility that the inflation rate “could continue to rise in an explosive manner this year”.
Werner also dismissed the Banco Central de Venezuela‘s report which put the inflation rate for 2015 at 187%, saying that the country’s actual inflation rate sat at around the 270% mark.
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